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The “internationally famous businessman” and “future richest man in the world”, who recently donated B34 million to Phuket temple, has been arrested.
Chinese national Chong Mi Chiew, the owner of Yun Shu Mao, allegedly a Ponzi scheme, is wanted in China and Malaysia for cheating investors of a total of around B9 billion.
Chong, who also goes by the aliases Zhang Jian and Supachai Rujathon, was arrested along with two lieutenants, his girlfriend Wang Wanfan (aka Pachuachiw Saeyang), and Kerng Lianpao (aka Surin Soponsuksan), also alleged to have fake Thai ID cards.
Police are waiting for arrest warrants to be issued for six more of Chong’s associates who are wanted in China.
Phuket police led by Pol Col Saman Chainarong of Region 8 brought Chong to his luxury villa in Rawai yesterday (October 28) to search for more evidence.
“He and his party were initially found to be using fake [Thai] ID cards. However, the Chinese police have already sent us copies of arrest warrants [for alleged frauds committed there] and Malaysian police are expected to send us more,” Col Saman said.
“After the Thai police have finished his case, he will be sent immediately to China.”
He said the group came to Thailand to buy many properties and are believed to be laundering money.
Thai police have already seized properties that Chong and his associates bought in Phuket. These include four villas in Rawai, two villas in Rassada and a house in Land & House (where Kerng/Surin was arrested).
The properties are estimated to be worth a total of B240 million.
Apart from the homes, police also seized cash in various currencies worth the equivalent of almost B1 million, and a bank book showing deposits of B1.5 million.
He explained that it is alleged that before the group arrived in Thailand, they cheated Chinese people of 1.3 billion Yuan – about B6 billion.
When arrest warrants were issued there they fled to Malaysia where they successfully persuaded another 80,000 people to buy into their company, Yun Shu Mao, raking in 300 million Ringgit (B3 billion).
They were about to register the company in Thailand when they were arrested.
In the bedroom of Chong’s Rawai villa, police opened a large safe in which they found a box of gold jewellery and gemstones, but no cash.
Asked about the donation of B34 million to Wat Charoensamanakit in Phuket, where Chong spent some time as a monk, Col Saman said, “We know the amount of the donation exactly. I do not think it will be a problem [to retrieve it]. But the Anti-Money Laundering Office will take care of this.
“I want to warn people, especially those living in Khon Kaen, Loei and Chonburi provinces, to be aware of the Yun Shu Mao company. I have heard that many members of this scheme are already promoting it in those provinces.”
The Ponzi scheme allegedly operated by attracting “investors” to buy into Yun Shu Mao Co, paying them large and immediate dividends and also commissions for bringing in more investors.
However, the dividends did not come from any profits the company was making, but from payments by other “investors” who put their money in later.
As long as a Ponzi scheme continues to grow it can make the founders and those who got in early very rich. But it will eventually unravel and latecomers – who will number in the tens or even hundreds of thousands – will lose everything.
The largest Ponzi scheme in history was the one launched by Bernard Madoff in the US. Losses to investors were estimated at US$65 billion (B1.9 trillion). Madoff was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 150 years in jail.